GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - For most of the year, Kolb Studio at Grand Canyon features art and exhibits from established artists, some better known than others. But, for a little over one month each year, area students have a chance to hang their best work on the gallery's walls.
The Arts for Our Park exhibit, now in its eighth year, features the work of Grand Canyon School students. The exhibit runs March 5 - April 17. The opening reception will be held March 9 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Kolb Studio. This is the second year the juried exhibit features art from students at Leupp Schools, Inc. as well.
Helen Ranney, Art for Our Parks committee member and director of outreach and public relations for the Grand Canyon Association, said the quality of work overall has gone up since Leupp's inclusion.
"They really take this show seriously," Ranney said. "It was Grand Canyon School art teacher Amy McBroom who suggested raising the bar of the competition by including a school of similar size and background. Meaning, there are kids coming in and out. And, giving a school on the Rez an opportunity to participate."
Ranney went on to say including a school similar in size and student makeup was important to the integrity of the art selection process.
"If we would have gone to another school it would have not been a fair process for the students," she said.
McBroom played a large role in making a student exhibit a reality at Kolb. She arrived at Grand Canyon nine years ago and inquired as to whether anything was done during Youth Art Month at the studio.
"They said 'no, we're usually pretty booked up, we can't do anything here," she said. "I said' OK, fine.'"
The following year, after discussion with faculty and staff at the district, it was decided in August that a student art show could be a reality.
"The next thing you know, we had four and a half months to try to put on a show," McBroom said.
After the exhibit's inaugural year, McBroom said the show was scheduled to coincide with Youth Art month in March.
The show is based on a different theme each year. This years theme 'Creating Traditions" allows for a wide range of subject matter.
"It's very broad, "McBroom said. "People go 'well, what does that mean?' Every year you come to school, you're creating your tradition. If you have a cultural background, you've created tradition. You're following tradition. You're keeping tradition. You can see how that could kind of open up. For Leupp, that's a big deal out there. They did a lot of traditional things but they also did some more whimsical things that you wouldn't think of as traditional things on the reservation."
This year's seven-member committee selected the theme. The Committee includes McBroom, Sharyl Allen, Pam Frasier, Rene Westbrook, Ranney, Tammy Kelly from Leupp Schools, Inc. and Jen Marshal.
Students from both schools submitted artwork in four age categories - Kindergarten - second grade, third-fifth grades, sixth-eighth grades and ninth-twelfth grades. Among the selected works, an overall best in show is selected along with winners in each age category.
Along with the main awards, there are outside prizes and recognitions awarded by area businesses. There is also a School Superintendent's award and a Park Superintendent's award as well.
The amount of work shown in Kolb Studio must be limited due to space.
"This is more of a traditional way of presenting a juried show, which most kids don't understand," McBroom said. "It's a warm fuzzy feeling to put everybody's stuff up in the hallway, but what does it take to actually make it into a gallery, an actual space if you are competing. It has become a trophy sort of prize to be recognized and to get into the show."
Along with the individual works on display, collaborative artwork will be shown allowing for all student participants to have some of there work represented.
Ranney said there were so many student submissions that more than half will not be shown at Kolb. On the up side, those submissions not featured at Kolb will be shown throughout the park at the post office, school and other locations.
"I think all, if not almost all, of the artwork will be on display somewhere recognizing the kids' efforts," Ranney said.
Refreshments at the opening reception will be prepared and served by the GCS Culinary Arts class. Exhibits at Kolb Studio are free and open to the public and sponsored by the Grand Canyon Association and Grand Canyon National Park.
For more information on the arts for Our Park exhibit and the Grand Canyon association and its programs visit www.grandcanyon.org.